Planning a solo adventure? Whether you’re visiting Canada to scout real estate for sale in Whistler, vacationing in France to finally take that selfie with the Eiffel Tower, or moving to Japan to teach ESL, here are three things to keep in mind when traveling by yourself.
Safety first! It’s never easy traveling to a strange new place, but it’s even less easy when you’re doing it alone. That means the only person you can count on to take care of you is you. A lot of things can go wrong when traveling, from lost luggage to stolen credit cards. You have to expect the unexpected and prepare for anything and everything to go wrong, because it just might.
That isn’t to say you should be paranoid or pessimistic. It just means you should take precautions to protect yourself. Heading overseas? Do your research about the country, look at what’s going on in the news, brush up on the language, save copies of important documents, and talk to your doctor about updating your immunizations. Plan to carry money with you? Consider loading prepaid credit cards with various amounts of money instead. That way, if any are lost and stolen, you don’t have to worry about identity theft, and you’re only out a small amount.
Wherever you go, though, at least do the following things: take a phone and keep it charged at all times, tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back, and carry some form of protection, whether it be a can of pepper-spray or a self-defense keychain.
Referring back to the aforementioned importance of keeping a close watch on your money, it’s important to remember that theft isn’t the only way to end up broke while on vacation. The truth is that travel isn’t cheap, so if you don’t make an active effort to budget carefully, avoid hidden charges, and reign in your own worst impulses, you could wind up coming home with an empty bank account.
One of the added benefits of using prepaid cards, as outlined above, instead of cash or your own credit/debit card is that it allows you to put yourself on a leash. It’s often deceptively easy to convince yourself that you just need one more souvenir or that, yes, it’s expensive, but that restaurant across from the hotel smells so good. Having a limited amount of funds on you at any given time makes you think thriftier.
Sure enough, thrifty thinking is the key. Know how much money you have, calculate necessary expenses, then see what you have left over. Protip: set some extra funds aside in case of an emergency.
The world is full of fascinating destinations with their own unique histories, cultures, and peoples. But it’s not a zoo and the locals aren’t there for your entertainment. They have lives and feelings and a profound connection to their homelands. If they’re polite enough to let you into their home, it’s incumbent upon you to be polite in return.
When visiting historical sites, for example, keep in mind where you are and what the place means to people, not just how cool a picture with it might look on your Instagram. Certain tourist-y behaviors aren’t appropriate in some areas, such as those that have been home to famous tragedies or that are sacred to someone else’s religion. Likewise, what is and isn’t acceptable is different depending on the culture, so don’t be quick to judge things that aren’t “normal” to you. After all, you’re the foreigner here, not them.
That’s as true for traveling domestically, too, not just abroad. Don’t take anyone for granted, not airline employees, shop owners, hotel clerks, tourist guides, or restaurant servers. If there’s a misunderstanding, have patience and manners. Even traveling alone, you’re never truly alone.